Being Underestimated

I've always bristled at being underestimated, which I frequently am.  I have to purposely focus on not being resentful when being second-guessed or passed over.  When I was younger, it created within me a belief that I needed to prove myself constantly.  My competitive nature insists on being a part of the contest, and being underestimated annoyed me to the point that it would alter my behavior.

I have recently learned different stories of people who had the opposite problem, they were overestimated.  The potential that people saw in them was like a hologram, more of an image than a thing of substance.  Whether it has been a question of their intelligence or talent, others saw in them a great success only to be disappointed when those prospects turned out to be false.  Contemplating this, it sounds like a nightmare.

I would be happier if people didn't make assumptions at all, but that isn't human nature.  It is a constant battle to fight against a world that imposes their perceptions on you.  I am seen as silly and goofy, overly cheerful perhaps, a troublemaker or prankster, and often mistaken as being much young than I am, and it's not that any of these things are not true.  The mistake lies in people thinking these traits preclude anything from existing beyond that.

Impressions are so subjective and a part of me wishes I could be judged based solely on my numbers.  You want to look at my GPA, my credit score, my IQ, my tenure, my body fat percentage, my minute per mile, or any other quantifiable measure, I am happy to let you make your assessment of me based on those numbers, good or bad.  To quote my least favorite and most overused idiom, it is what it is.

Instead, all my life, I have been perceived much differently than I am.  I am annoyed when people are surprised when I do something well, and I wonder what it is about me that makes them doubt.

Especially because I am so competitive and have, since I was a little girl, invested whatever effort necessary to compete with the very best around me, I find it egregious to be overlooked as a contender.  I can recall moments in my life, such as with that statistics professor in college who said it was unbelievable that someone like me could be so good, where I felt a fury burn within me at being underestimated.  Someone like me?  What does that mean?  Because I don't mope around with a serious expression or complain about the workload, does this mean I must be flakey or ditzy?  Is that not very lazy stereotyping?

But I have learned over time that it is my secret weapon. While it riles me to have anyone look at me as non-threatening (especially intellectually), there is a joy that builds within me when I see the look on someone's face when they realize they have misjudged me.  I love it when, without any effort, I can floor someone who didn't believe in me.  That is my vindication.

I may be the dark horse no one will bet on (and I would bet most people do not know where the phrase "dark horse" comes from, either), but I delight when the few who do see their reward when I come through for them.  That is a far better outcome than being overestimated for sure.